Monday, August 11, 2014

International Dot Day 2014- Planning

Many of my educator friends have gone back to school, and alas, here I sit. Our school has undergone  some renovations this summer and the building is not quite ready. A positive to this is it is giving me time to get a head start on planning. 

One of my most favorite celebrations in the library happens very early in the school year.  It is International Dot Day on September 15thish. The "ish" because you can celebrate it at anytime around that day. The celebration centers around the book, THE DOT by Peter Reynolds and shares the idea that we should  be brave and make our mark! Thanks to my friends, Matthew Winner (The Busy Librarian) and Shannon Miller (The Library Voice) I have had the opportunity to connect my students before and can't wait for this year! 

Our students have celebrated Dot Day for the past couple of years and look forward to the opportunity to create & connect with others. You can read about how we celebrated Dot Day 2013, which always ends up being a week long celebration. We have colored dots, Skyped, shared our ideas of how we could make our mark, used technology to create & share dots, and much more! It is always a crazy, busy week but one that sets the tone for the whole year. A year that is full of creating, collaborating, and connecting!

There are great ideas for ways to celebrate on the International Dot Day website and on Pinterest, of course! But truly, no Dot Day is complete with out connections. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect your students with other students around the country and possibly the world. Matthew Winner has a Skype in the Classroom International Dot Day lesson that will help you get connected. There is also a Dot Day Google Doc to help you make connections with other educators. Many teachers and librarians have already listed their information on the Google doc, so be sure to add yours! You might not know your schedule yet, but you can always add that later!

So go ahead! What are you waiting for? Go make your mark and get your students connected this school year!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Modeling Life Long Learning

You know how we encourage our students to be life long learners? How we worry about our students experiencing summer slide? This made me start thinking about whether we, the adults in the process, are walking the walk, or just talking the talk. How often do we as educators practice what we preach? Do we "take the summer off" from learning and growing as a professional, or do we seek opportunities to learn, beyond our required hours of staff development?

I would say that if you are a connected educator, active on Twitter and/or Google+, and participate in chats and webinars, then you are certainly modeling what we want for our students. Every single time I log on to Twitter, I learn something or am inspired to try something. Because of this, I share the power of Twitter as often as possible.

This summer I have had the opportunity to share about the impact Twitter can make on someone's professional life on several different occasions. During our district summer professional development, I taught four different sessions. Each time, I would see a few people who really got it! They could see what Twitter had to offer, and then they would begin to get excited about the potential. As I was walking out at the end of one of the sessions, I thought about this part of a song from my childhood...

It really does just take a spark. I've seen it happen just this summer with our school counselor. Lindsay Fuller followed a conference hashtag and saw what you can learn without ever leaving your home. She now has a professional Twitter account, follows hashtags specific to school counselors and is working on her online presence through her blog post at Curtis Counselor. Lindsay had to experience it to "get it" and is now learning each time she gets on Twitter or reads a blog. Being a connected educator = life long learning.

Last week, during one of my sessions, a high school biology teacher started to get it. We got her all signed up and the beginnings of a PLN formed. As we were going through all of this, the wheels started turning, and you could see that spark. During our conversation, she said, "You know, we always end the year with dissecting in biology and the kids love it. Then we send them home for the summer. Why can't I START the year with dissecting and get them all fired up?" I had an extra copy of Dave Burgess's Teach Like a Pirate in my bag, and quickly grabbed it and handed it to her. Being willing to change your thinking = life long learning.

Later that night, I saw this same teacher had posed a question on Twitter and was waiting for someone to offer help. I shared her tweet with people I thought would be able to help her, and boy did they help! Thanks to Charles Cooper and others, she saw the true benefit of Twitter, a support network ready to help out. 

During the summer, my assistant principal, Lorie Bratcher talked with me about started a blog. I shared with her two books I had read this summer by Austin Kleon. These books were recommended to me by a teacher-librarian friend, Andy Plemmons.   We talked about how a blog can be an ongoing resume, and that we should share our stories with others. Lorie was Teacher of the Year for our campus, district and even our region several years ago... She is passionate about what she does and has a lot that she can share about teaching and continuous improvement. With all that she has to offer, it is still scary to put that first blog post out there for others to read, but she did it! You can read her post here. Being a risk-taker = life long learning.

This week, I also had the opportunity to speak to our district administrators about the power of Twitter and developing a personal learning network (PLN). To say I was nervous would be an understatement. It felt like I was preparing closing arguments for a big trial... that I had one hour to convince them to try Twitter as a way to grow professionally. I have Twitter presentations for teacher-librarians and teachers, but I knew this one would have to be different. Thanks to insight and resources from my own PLN, I created a Smore that I thought would convey all I wanted to share with them.

Before I got there, my principal, Racheal Rife, had everyone create an account so they were ready to go. A hashtag had also been created for this group, which showed them a way to share information with each other. I was able to see tweets being posted before I even started the presentation, so that was exciting. As I looked out at the crowd of administrators, I saw a room full of educators, many with years and years of experience, who were still excited and willing to try a new way to learn and grow. Being willing to try something new = life-long learning.

And one more thought, a little unrelated... connected educators retweet things on Twitter about how being a connected educator makes a huge difference for people professionally. What I realize though is we still need to reach the non-tweeters. Every time we post a tweet or share a blog post on Twitter, we are preaching to the choir, so to speak. The people we want to see those tweets might not have discovered the benefit of Twitter yet, so they never see them. Instead,  we should share how developing a PLN on Twitter can make you a better teacher, librarian, counselor, principal or superintendent, and make sure we are reaching out to those people where they are, which often times isn't on Twitter yet. We need to meet them in the library, in the hallways or at a conference. And then  make sure that we support them on Twitter, so that they feel its power when they reach out.

These are just some ways we model life long learning for our students. As we begin a new school year of encouraging our students to be life long learners, we must ask ourselves, " Am I walking the walk?" How do you model life long learning? 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Happy New Year!

New Year Flags by Rones

Last week, while reading tweets from members of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) I could see that people were planning. Planning for a new school year, planning for a new challenge, even planning for new positions or new schools. For those of us in education, July feels a lot like January. It is a time for making goals and changes, for really looking at what you have been doing or where you have been, and then working to make sure that when August comes around, and the students walk in the door, you are right where you are suppose to be, ready to give your very best!

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So today, I jumped on board the "Back to School" train! I bought my planner for the year! I've been thinking about the new school year all summer, as I participated in staff development, Twitter chats, Summer Learning challenges, brainstorming sessions with my #Wandoo5 +1 friends, and EdCamp Ft. Worth. But the purchasing of the planner says "I'm ready to focus & commit to ideas and goals for the new year."

Earlier this month, I watched with excitement as our school counselor, Lindsay Fuller started developing her own Twitter PLN and collaborated and connecting with other school counselors. I've shared how being a connected educator has helped me be a better librarian, and she experienced that this summer!  She wrote a fabulous blog post about her goals for this new school year that you can read HERE and sent out this sweet tweet!

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This and a session at EdCamp FWTX helped bring to mind one of my goals for the new school year, which is to help teachers on our campus become connected educators. I can do this by providing opportunities for connections and supporting them while they develop their own PLNs on Twitter.  Joining and participating in conversations & chats on Twitter is a great way to become a connected educator.  During EdCamp FWTX, Todd Nesloney Skyped in to talk about his Summer Learning Series aimed at getting educators connected and comfortable with using various tools. He also spoke to the people in the room about creating a PLN on Twitter. Here some more tweets from that session.

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Another goal I will have this year is having a MakerClub. Having had a Media MakerClub last school year, I know better than to name this club. The first thing the students did in the Media Maker Club was change the name to Digital Bookworms! :) #studentvoice

 If you've been reading this blog, you know we created a maker space in the library last spring. You can read the posts about it HERE and HERE.  My goal this year is to use this space not only during the school day, but also with an after school club. This club will change each six weeks, with a new collaborative project each six weeks. I have had several parents who are interested assisting with this club, so I will be calling upon them for help. The students have really enjoyed the time they have spent exploring the makerspace, but my goal is for it to be more product oriented, with a mini-makerfaire at the end of each session to showcase the creations of the students. 

The media maker club will also run similarly to this, so that students are learning a tool and then creating with that tool. This decision was based on feedback I got from the members of the Digital Bookworms at the end of last year.

Lastly, a goal I have this year is to collaborate even more with our campus teachers. Each year brings more opportunities for collaboration and more willing participants. These collaboration efforts, like other goals I have, need a specific focus so I will design collaborative projects for each grade level, with the help of the grade level teachers. With these collaborations, students will be taught a digital tool that they can use. While at AASL last November, I listened to Jennifer Reed talk about how she teaches each grade level a specific digital tool each year so that they build a tool box of digital tools. I did a little of this last year, but want to be more focused this year, planning ahead each grade level's tool. These tools will then be used for their collaborative project. 

I am excited about this new year! I'm ready to open my new planner, get focused and start working on these goals! What goals do you have for the new school year? 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

SummerThrowDown '14

I love being able to tackle my #TBR (to be read) stack during the summer, mixing in both kidlit and grown-up books. My friend Sherry Gick tweeted out about the 3rd annual SummerThrowDown, where this year you can challenge a friend to compete against you. I haven't challenged anyone, but I am finally attacking my stack of books that have been waiting for me! For more information, you can read Sherry's blog post at The Library Fanatic.  

The organizers of SummerThrowDown are:
Brian Wyzlic - Wyz Reads 
Kathy Burnette  - The Brain Lair 

All of these folks, Sherry included, would be great people to follow on Twitter and add to your PLN.

My goal for SummerThrowDown is 25 books. Having just finished Divergent, and now I'm reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth, so I'm definitely going to have to work in some picture books to reach my goal!

If you want to join the SummerThrowDown, you can sign up here

To follow my progress, you can find me on Goodreads.

Happy Reading!
Also, please ignore the two pictures of Insurgent. Not sure why it is showing up twice! :)